Grand Avenue design approved; reconstruction to begin in spring

Grand Ave
The reconstruction of Grand Avenue will include new safety features, like chicanes, intended to slow drivers. Submitted image

The City Council has signed off on a design to reconstruct more than two miles of Grand Avenue south of Lake Street — adding new safety features and concentrating parking near commercial hubs.

Grand Avenue will be reconstructed between Lake and 48th streets beginning in spring 2021 in a project that will replace 60-year-old pavement, improve the pedestrian realm and add new safety features like chicanes — midblock pinch points and curves designed to slow drivers down.

“What we’ve heard is that people support the elements that enhance the pedestrian experience,” project planner Dan Edgerton said.

The reconstruction will cost about $16 million. The city plans to pay for it with state aid, bonds and assessments on property owners who live on the road.

The design, approved by the City Council in August, will maintain two-way vehicle traffic on Grand Avenue.

The final design includes 35 more parking spaces than existed in a concept presented in January that had drawn concern from local business groups.

The future Grand Avenue will primarily consist of two design patterns: one with a 54-foot right-of-way and street parking on a single side of the street and the other with a 60-foot right-of-way and parking on both sides of the street. North of 39th Street, the project will largely follow the 60-foot model, with parking on both sides of the street. South of 39th Street, parking will alternate sides block-by-block but will be extended to both sides of the street at business nodes at 46th and 48th streets.

Both design patterns will include 12 feet of sidewalk and boulevard space on each side of the street, as well as larger bump-outs at intersections, intended to slow drivers and give pedestrians a shorter crossing district. Most blocks will incorporate a chicane, essentially a mid-block patch of green jutting out from the boulevard to narrow vehicle space and slow traffic.

Enhanced medians with features like raised crosswalks and flashing beacons will be added at 43rd Street, which is part of the city’s planned “All Ages and Abilities” bike network, and 33rd Street, near Lyndale School.

Transit stations along Grand will be consolidated, Edgerton said. The design calls for eliminating stops at 32nd, 36th, 41st and 47th streets.

There will be no protected bike path added along Grand Avenue for the project; however, the design calls for a two-block protected trail running along 31st Street West from Pleasant Avenue to Grand Avenue and one block north from 31st Street to Lake Street. The goal is to allow cyclists using the Pleasant Avenue bike lane to access a traffic light when crossing Lake Street, Edgerton said.

The city estimates that over 3,400 people live within a block of the road segment and that between 1,150 and 2,100 people drive it each day. About 330 people walk the sidewalks, 80 bike it and 550 board buses on it daily, according to city estimates.